We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest

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“Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a White mother’s son—we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

–Ella Baker (1903-1986)

In weeks like this one, it can be particularly heartbreaking to see just how far the aspirations of our faith and the realities of our society are from one another.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a ghastly display of the racism inherent in our judicial process, the jury just returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts, acquitting a young white man of the murders of two pro-BLM protesters participating in the uprising that occurred after the police killing of Jacob Blake.

In Brunswick, Georgia, the defense has just finished its arguments about why three white vigilantes were justified in murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he was out for an afternoon jog in his own neighborhood. And yesterday afternoon, while Governor Stitt of Oklahoma commuted Julius Jones’ sentence to avoid execution, he pointedly denied any possibility of parole, in spite of vast evidence suggesting Jones’ innocence and against the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

White supremacy is deadly. It is dehumanizing, violent, and it continues to hold our nation in its death-grip. We know that the criminal-legal system cannot deliver real justice, policing will never truly keep us safe, and liberation will not be realized without a radical reimagination of our current structures. And still, events like these are a painful reminder of the inequity and hypocrisy that are at the foundation of our so-called “justice system.”

One of the most radical assertions of Unitarian Universalism is that every single human is endowed with inherent worth and dignity. We are all born from an unimaginable, unshakable Love that brought us into being, and from which we cannot ever be separated. Our faith insists that any system that works to erode our full humanity is unjust and harmful, and must be dismantled. Unitarian Universalism urges us to dedicate our hearts and our life forces toward dismantling white supremacy, and creating a world in which every single person has the ability to live free and thrive.

Simply: our faith unequivocally joins with all those who declare that #BlackLivesMatter, and who recommit our hearts and our hands to building a world in which that is true.

However your heart is today, Beloved, know that you are not alone. If you are receiving this message, you are already a part of a wide network of people who are working in a thousand ways to bring more justice and liberation into being. You are part of a cloud of witnesses and workers, living and dead, whose hearts are both cracked open by all that there is to mourn, and mended again and again by the power of Love to heal and connect us to one another.

If you are someone who needs to stop and make space for grief, rage, despair — we are with you in that pause, holding you and witnessing. It is true that we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes — but the “we” is so much larger than any individual, and all of us must take our shifts. If you need a moment to pause, know that others are ready to move and take their turns now. Perhaps this version of “Ella’s Song” will be a balm to your spirit, as it has been to ours.

If you are someone who channels your brokenness quickly into action, we are with you, too. March with your people in the streets. Donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund, which will be providing jail and legal support to protesters fighting for Black liberation this week. Double down on local struggles to fight white supremacy and curb the deadly impacts of policing and the prison industrial complex. Visit our Action Center and support the People’s Response Act, a new federal bill that emphasizes an inclusive, holistic, and health-centered approach to public safety rather than the current system of policing, incarceration and punishment.

May you find what you need to hold your spirit today, dear ones. The struggle continues, and we are blessed to be in it together.

In faith and solidarity,

The Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team